One is a sculpture and the other is a building. One is made of Steel and Aluminum and the other made of concrete and glass. They are some 5,000 miles apart and in a different Hemisphere. One is called Floralis Generica in Buenos Aires, Argentina and the other one is the Stratton Student Center in Cambridge. MA. So what is the common thread?
Floralis Generica means Generic Flower and is located in the United Nations Park on Figueroa Alcorta Avenue in Buenos Aires Argentina. Located between the classically-designed Law School of the University of Buenos Aires and the modern 1-story Canal 7 TV broadcasting station this park was always a barren, unattractive, and mostly by-passed park until the sculpture was installed in 2002. The flower was designed to open and to have red lighting at night and to close during the day. The mechanics that activate the leaves has not been working lately.
Sundown view of Floralis Generica (from danubeian Flikr)
Daytime view of Floralis Generica (from CABA)
Stratton was an MIT President and this building currently contains among others a bookstore, retail shop, food establishments, places to study, among other. Centrally located, this building is at the center of student life at MIT. Despite the inclement Boston weather the building has stood the test of time and certainly catches the passer-by’s eye.
View of Stratton Student Center at MIT (MIT Alchemist Statue | by Tony Webster)
The common thread is an Argentine Architect named Eduardo Catalano. Born in Buenos Aires in 1917, he emigrated to the US to study Architecture at Harvard and UPenn. He worked under the watchful eye of Frank Lloyd Wright, travelled the world and became an MIT teacher after being a teacher at Raleigh, North Carolina.
Eduardo Catalano (MIT Archives)
His most prominent work also includes the Julliard School of Music in New York, the US embassies in Argentina and South African and a home that no longer exists in North Carolina. Although Catalano didn’t design a large number of buildings, the ones he did left a mark. Most surprising to me was that Floralis Generica shows that Catalano was more than a good architect – he was a great sculptor who created a much revered icon of modern Buenos Aires.
Juilliard School – Alice Tully Hall (Wikipedia)